In addition to the basic functionality of font, alignment, spacing, and color, the package also provides its users with professional typesetting options like kerning, curving text along a line, and ligatures.
A QuarkXPress document contains text and graphics boxes. The boxes can be reshaped, layered, and given varying levels of transparency and text alignment (runaround). Both box positioning and graphic or text positioning is allowed within a box with an accuracy of one-thousandth of an inch.
Color control allows the full-use of printing-press standard Pantone or Hexachrome inks, along with a variety of other color-space options. Draft output can be printed on conventional desktop printers. Process color (CMYK) separation films can be produced for printing-presses. QuarkXPress also offers the ability for composite work-flows, both with PostScript and PDF output.
QuarkXPress offers layout synchronization, multiple undo/redo functionality, XML and web page (HTML/XHTML) features, and support for direct PDF import and output. Documents can be verified (pre-flight) before printing. This high-level print preview automatically identifies conflicts and other printing problems. Since then Adobe has implemented a similar feature in InDesign CS4.
Composition zones feature makes it the only desktop application with multi-user capabilities by allowing multiple users to edit different zones on the same page. Composition Zones pushes collaboration a step further than just simultaneous text/picture (as possible with QuarkCopyDesk since 1991), as it allows layout and graphic elements to be edited outside the layout application.
User-defined rules, output specs and layout specs can be used for intelligent templates and enable resource sharing (for example, server-based style sheet definitions).
Version 6.5, released at the end of 2004, added enhanced support for the Photoshop format (PSD). The PSD integration and picture manipulation features led to QuarkXPress receiving a number of awards, such as the Macworld Editor’s Choice for 2004.
Version 7 added support for OpenType, Unicode, JDF and also PDF/X-export. QuarkXPress 7 also added unique features, such as native transparency at the color level.
QuarkXPress 8 introduced a completely new user interface, support for drag and drop, PDF 1.7 import, AI Import and a global file format. Design grids can be assigned to pages and boxes to allow unlimited baseline grids. Hanging characters can be applied and customized by character and amount to hang outside the box. This is the first version to include built-in Adobe Flash authoring. Designers can create Flash content including sound, video, animation and interactivity without programming. In October 2008, QuarkXPress 8 won the MacUser Award for Print Publishing Software of the Year.
With the current version 9 QuarkXPress extended its crossmedia publishing approach and can be used now to also export to eBooks (ePub3 and Blio) and native apps (for the iPad). With App Studio, which is shipped with QuarkXPress, designers can even create and design their own apps. Additionally QuarkXPress 9 offers cascading styles (stylesheets based on text content), callouts (anchored objects that flow with the text based on position rules), create complex ad editable Bézier paths using a wizard (ShapeMaker), bullets and numbers (with import & export from/to Microsoft Word) and more.
The Mac version of QuarkXPress 9 is for Intel processors only, making QuarkXPress 8.5.1 the last choice for PPC-based Macs.